Randy Pausch on Time Management

Most who are familiar with Randy Pausch first learned of him through his Last Lecture. The Youtube video of his speech has received almost 6 million views already. If you haven’t yet made time to watch the speech, I encourage you to make time (make, not find) to watch it in its entirety. Many think nothing of wasting 60 minutes to watch a weekly reality TV show. Skip one week and instead watch Pausch’s lecture.

But don’t stop at the last lecture… I also encourage you to watch a lesser known video from Pausch.  This video includes his thoughts on time management. If there was anyone who knew how to make the most out of limited time, it was Randy Pausch.

I’ve always considered myself competent in terms of time management. Yet, over the years, my business has grown, my family has grown (wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs), and the days just seem to be shorter and shorter. There are definitely moments when I don’t know how I can get everything done.

When I first started my website in 2001, I decided that I would personally respond to every email. Perhaps it helped that I was only responding to 3 or 4 emails. My email duty took about 5 minutes a day. Things have changed however. A day doesn’t pass without less than 100 emails. I still respond to everyone personally however. In my opinion, if you run a business, you better be there to answer questions. If you can’t respond, hire someone who can. If I walk into a store and have a question, I expect someone to help. Many online businesses seem to have dropped this simple courtesy however. I recently purchased a piece of training equipment and haven’t heard from the company in several weeks. I’ve sent emails regarding the supposed shipment and have yet to receive a response. I still don’t know if my order was processed. And in case they are reading, I can gladly list your company name for thousands to see on this blog 🙂

Anyways, back to the subject of time management. I once had a customer call and ask to speak with customer support. I told him that he was speaking with customer support. Before I had a chance to say “This is Ross,” he cut me off and asked to speak with the billing department. He wanted to add a book to a shirt order, and wanted to change the shirt size from medium to large. I told him that he is speaking to billing. He then asked if it was possible to speak with the shipping department. Once again I told him he is speaking to the shipping department. He then thought I was joking, so asked if I knew how to get in touch with Ross. I told him that he already was. In the time since, I’ve received several similar calls. I also receive emails with messages such as “If Ross sees this, can you please ask him…”

I typically respond by saying that if anyone but Ross is seeing this, we both have a problem. I’m the only one here, so don’t expect anyone else to read anything.

In addition to responding to emails and shipping orders, I’m also in the gym each day working with athletes, often for several hours at a time. If we are traveling to spar, it may fill the better half of a day. When someone emails me however, they don’t care about where we traveled for sparring. They have a question and are looking for an answer. I make the most of my time and get back to everyone, one by one.

Perhaps one day I’ll need to hire someone. I honestly don’t know. Regardless of what happens however, I will continue to make the absolute most out of each minute of every day. And if the time comes when I no longer enjoy my job, I will make a change. In my opinion, these two simple elements should be a part of everyone’s life. Love what you do and make the most of your time. Without time management skills, this wouldn’t be possible (for me). I don’t know if I would love my job if I couldn’t keep up and was stressed out 24/7. It would be difficult to find joy in such an environment.

Fortunately, the video above includes many useful ideas regarding time management. If you find yourself struggling in this department, set aside some time (a one time investment in time) and you’ll likely pick up on several valuable tips. I certainly learned some new ideas that I’ve already started to implement.

Anyways, that’s enough for this sleep deprived blog entry. I’ve gone off on a few tangents and may not have made a whole lot of sense. Hopefully my original message is heard however. Make some time to watch Pausch’s video. The more I watch from him, the more I realize that we can all learn something from Randy Pausch.


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  1. Hey Ross! It’s your boy Chuck. First & Foremost i wanna say Thank You Very much Ross & i think i say that on behalf of everybody that visits this blog. Thank You very much for responding to each one of my e-mails man. Ross. It is deeply appreciated. I’ll tell you this. There ain’t to many people like you in this world Ross, & that’s why i thank God each & every night before i go to sleep for such a great trainer like you. Again man thank you very much Ross.

    Oh yeah and what’s up with this company fu**ing with your S**t Ross? Man i say you give them by the end of this week, then Expose those Fu**ers man. I think me & alot of people from this Blog would definitely have a thing or to to Say in an e-mail to these Fu**s.

    !!!Hey People!!! Either Ross gets his shit, Or we get Rowdy!!! :+)

  2. I love these blog entries that deal with this subject. Life ain’t easy, and there’s no way around it. A lot of people can learn from you, Ross.

    Oh, and please list the company’s name! 🙂

  3. I am still shocked on how responsive you are Ross. When I first e-mailed you about how much I love II, I never expected a response as I was used to other websites. Its amazing how much you do not only for your customers, but people who haven’t purchased anything from you. We could use more dedication like that in this world.

  4. Ross, why don’t you set up a FAQ on the same page as your contact information that lists the questions and answers for the most common questions you get? I admire your willingness to answer all of the questions that come your way, but assuming you do get a lot of the same questions, setting up a FAQ might slow down the emails a bit while still answering people. Just a suggestion.


  5. Ross,

    I think it’s a crying shame that you respond to all those emails and shipping orders. Seriously. It shows a lot of heart, it shows how industrious and productive you are, which are the best character traits, but I think you should save that industriousness to the areas where you are most EFFECTIVE.

    Just a guess, from how much you’ve revealed your life to us on your blog: You’re a good father, a good trainer, and a good writer and researcher. In fact, you write the best books on the market for combat athletes. To me, it’s a shame to think that you take time away from any of those things which you are uniquely excellent at, to do something that anybody could do (process orders).

    Bill Gates is a really smart and hard working guy. Probably so smart and hard working, that he could do the best janitorial job out of all the janetors at MSN. Does that mean he should do the janitorial work there so he doesn’t compromise quality by hiring someone else who isn’t as good as him? I wouldn’t think so. By hiring a janitor, he is actually able to move time away from sweeping the halls of MSN to a high value activity like making important business and product decisions.

    Your value Ross (to me) is your ability to write and provide simple, effective information to athletes without BS. Rarely can anyone else do that. While you might help a few people by answering their emails better than if you hired online customer support, you will help thousands more by devoting your time to what you do best. I also imagine that you will be happier doing those things you are effective at: spending more time being a father, husband, trainer, and writer, rather than answering angry shipping calls.

    MAKING time is all about removing the low value activities and replacing them with high value ones. At some point, TV isn’t your low value activity–it might be answering repetitive emails or placing orders that is your most low value activity. To make time means to replace those low output activities with higher value ones.

    Hopefully you take my view to heart.

    PS: If you want information on hiring virtual assistants, check out the chapter on virtual assistants in the book The Four Hour Work Week.

  6. Ross, you’re approach to buisiness is refreshing and counter-cultural. I’ve always been impressed with your personal response to my questions the few times I’ve had them. You’re popular because of these things so keep the core of this business philosophy going as long as possible.

  7. Ross,

    You are a very kind person.
    This became very rare in the world.
    Especially in the world wide web.
    I hope will will maintain a long happy and healthy life to can encourage many people over the world to train hard.
    Sometimes when i send an email, i was impatient, too.
    Sorry for that!

    Thanks for all your advices, blog posts, emails etc.

    Best wishes

  8. Ross,

    I’ve been visiting your page regularly for a few months now (one of 3 online stops I make daily). You show character that I can only hope to one day be known for myself. I’m half way through the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which touches on a lot of what is being discussed in this blog/comments. If you haven’t had a chance to read this book, it is a must read (you’ll probably read it with a big smile on your face because you’re already living these habits). In short… to be Effective in the things we do, there are no short cuts and no way to dodge the actual “hard work” that precedes success! The keys are vision (doing the right work), management (efficiently getting the right work done), and proactivity (taking control of your life and owning your decisions/consequences).

    On a side note, I was working with a client the other day and I heard an interesting line that goes along the lines of taking charge of your life and owning your decisions and consequences. We were sprinting in place pumping 5lb dumbbells overhead and I asked her “why are you moving so slow”. She says “because the dumbbells are too heavy”. The correct response should have been “because i’m not strong enough yet…” but instead it was the dumbbells fault for being too heavy!


  9. I am new to your website and will definitely become a regular. Thank you for posting THIS video. I have seen other lectures of his but this one is different and glad I got to see it. He really was an extraordinary man!

    I love that you do everything. As someone who wants to do what you’re doing you’re really an inspiration. I can’t wait to explore your website even more!

  10. Have you considered hiring an intern? I’m sure there are many exercise science college students out there who’d be willing to do unpaid internships with you.

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